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Day 85 - 87 'ready for the final Munro'

June 26/27 2023. – Days 85/86


Day 85


Euan and the commander left this splendid bothy full of porridge/fruit and tea which was prepared on Euan’s jetboil stove and eaten overlooking the loch. They then proceeded to walk the 13k to the parked van which had been left at another more basic bothy of corrugated iron which had been a schoolhouse in its day. The day was a lot drier than the commander’s walk in the previous day and he thought it was shorter as well. This was probably due to the pace which Euan regularly adopts on a walk along a track. Another breakfast was enjoyed in Cr282 before Euan set off on his bike to Inchnadamph. There was a strong headwind for most of the way and on arrival discovered the planned parking spot did not allow overnight parking. Any refreshment at the adjoining Inchnadamph hotel was not possible either since it was not open to non-residents. A trip to nearby Lochinver with its renowned Larder which makes and sells warm delicious pies with fillings to suit individual tastes.

Cr282 found an approved parking spot near the mixed woodland at Lochinver which is managed by the Culag Community Woodland Trust. It is good to see a community welcome sensible campervan use at an out of village spot with a network of paths around and through the woods. Similar to other areas of the Highlands in the 1840’s and 50’s , this woodland was planted as part of a famine relief programmes. Men were paid 5 pennies a day and women half that. In the 1930’s, further hardship led to work being provided building paths in the woodlands at 6 pennies a yard. Equality and the minimum wage were a long way off.

Postscript

Jaimie Aarons, whom Euan met the previous day has beaten the record for the fastest round of Munros. Well Done, Jaimie!



Day 86


There was an even earlier start than usual for the Cr282 team as a very wet forecast for the day from 11.00am onwards could be avoided on the tops at least if Euan started early. He was walking by 7.00am and had them completed by 11.00am. He enjoyed the long ridge between these two Munros even though there was some rain at the top. He descended in dry conditions and had some tea and a sandwich in the waiting van. It was a 11mile cycle for the first stage down to Rosehall through the Rosal Estate which from the many anglers present relied on the fishing in the beautiful river Cassley as a source of income. Besides the one farm, this 11mile glen was very much a shooting/fishing enterprise.



Today’s Munros – 2 Total Munros – 280


Ben More Assynt – Big Hill of Assynt

Conival - Adjoining Hill


Ben More is given its district name of Assynt to distinguish it from Ben More in Mull which was the start of Ch282. With the finishing line in sight, it’s appropriate that this hill name appears again. The name here, comes from the Norse – ass meaning ridge and endi meaning end.

The commander trundled the van down the tarred but potholed road to Rosehall following Euan and then went on to Lairg where a recce was carried out with a view to staying in the local campsite and finding a cafe suitable for a rest and, of course, a coffee. Euan had to climb the hilly road before descending to Lairg but arrived before a full recce was carried out. In other words, the commander had not found either a campsite – no touring campervans at the local site or a quality café – only a dark and uninviting one, The Rusty Coo, by name on the main street. A sign to The Pier Café was an excellent spy and a deluxe roll, americano and cake was purchased in this busy café with excellent service. In fact, it makes it into the Ch282’s top five of best cafes in our Scotland tour. Similarly, a good rural campsite three or four miles out of Lairg was very cheap, £21.50 with very good showers and a grassy pitch. It even had a wooden hut with a pool table, table and chairs for a makeshift bring your own bottle bar.


Planning for the last two Munros did not take long since Ben Klibreck is a straightforward climb as is Ben Hope, but both will involve a long cycle ride to get to the bases. At least the weather became drier even if the temperature had dropped from previous weeks and a steady windy had started. Those who regularly cycle will know the importance of wind direction and since the prevailing wind is west or south westerly and the direction of Ch282 travel is generally north, Euan was optimistic of speedy cycle rides.


28 June 2023 - Day 87


Today’s Munro – 1. Total Munros – 281


Ben Klibreck - Hill of the Speckled Cliff


Ch282 left the Poolside campsite in relatively dry conditions after the heavy rain of the previous 24 hours. A return to Lairg itself was necessary so that Euan could start his bike ride where he left off the previous day. A top up of fresh food from the well-stocked local Spar was also needed. Today’s single Munro, Ben Klibreck, the penultimate Munro in Ch282, was the target but a 17-mile cycle ride to its base had to made first. This meant crossing into the vast Flow Country with its flat and featureless largely scenery. Euan was glad that, for a cyclist, its road was also flat and today, he enjoyed a following wind.

This mountain and the final Munro, Ben Hope, are the only two Munros with Norse names. “Klif brekka” meaning cliff slope with kliff being pronounced as “klee”. Flow is also Norse and not surprisingly “floi” means wet or marshy.

Cr282 also travelled through this part of the country to the base of Ben Klibreck. The Flow Country is the largest piece of blanket bog in Europe. Besides being a huge unspoilt area of Scotland for plants and wildlife, it is a very important factor in the struggle to reduce CO2. The peat and bog act as a store or sink for CO2 in the atmosphere.

Euan and the commander were both startled when travelling along this very quiet road when just coming to the brow of a small hill to see huge, white, turning blades without appearing to be attached to any structures. Of course, these were wind turbines on a wind farm but for a few seconds, it was a weird experience. (Obviously, the commander needs a rest. – the Editor). The Creag Riabhach Wind Farm has 22 turbines in this remote glen which were all turning slowly on this day. Landscaping work was still being carried out around the turbines and access roads, but it did not seem to be too obtrusive. This renewable energy source, coupled with the vast carbon reducing peat and bogs of the Flow Country make this area one of the most valuable in the country in terms of the climate crisis.

After a brief lunch stop, Euan cycled the 27k to the base of the final Munro of Ch282, Ben Hope. This included a cycle ride of 11miles down the bumpy single-track road from Altnahara to the appropriately named settlement of Hope at its exit. It was a sentiment – hope – that the commander and Cr282 felt along its length although some of the views did make up for its surface and never-ending nature.

This lengthy road has only two habitable dwellings since it was cleared in the nineteenth century by Lord Reay and never resettled. The Gaelic poet, Rob Donn Mackay is a celebrated local from the past. He was a drover, a soldier and then a writer of poems and songs of the area which he lived in for most of his life.

With some recreational time to spare before the final Munro on the planned day after next, Cr282 travelled to Durness marvelling at the rough coastline with the occasional sandy beach. They were not alone on this route of North Coast 500 fame since many campervans and tourist cars vied with one another at every scenic viewpoint. It did not detract from the journey although locals have voiced concerns about the influx of visitors every summer.

Cr282 had a “front row seat” at Durness campsite as it overlooked the beach and Balnakiel Bay. Replenished with fresh fish and seafood at Smoo Cave Hotel, this was a fine end to the day.





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1 Comment


pasgah99
Jun 30, 2023

Well Euan, the final day has arrived. By the time you review this comment you will likely have topped and returned. I send warm congratulations on this Munro task, a fantastic achievement. Your Speed Aggression Surprise over a sustained period, coupled with your North East resilience and determination has stood you in good stead. When you have had the opportunity to reflect this past months you will get much enjoyment and you reconnection with Scotland will be complete.

Enjoy your time with the family and retirement, the best job by far.

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